The political economy of pre-trial detention

Research reports and studies
February 2013

On any given day, over 3 million people are held in pre-trial detention (PTD). On average, this represents one out of every three people detained, but this rises to one in two detainees in many countries. PTD is a relatively discrete justice issue that is clearly identifiable and can be addressed before escalation, presenting an important opportunity for policymakers (from ministries and donor agencies) to engage in reform. It is also diagnostic in relation to broader justice challenges and state–society relations, making it a useful gauge of other blockages within the justice sector.

The objective of this paper is to develop an analytical framework that draws on political economy analysis (PEA) that can contribute to identifying the drivers of PTD. This can then be taken to country level to inform programming in ways that improve results.